Appeal Court dismisses suit seeking to disqualify Obi as LP Presidential Candidate

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, seeking to disqualify Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, from the February 25 general election.

Daily Post reports that the appeal marked: CA/ABJ/CV/1414/2022, the Movement had approached the court, contending that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ought not to have recognized Peter Obi as a valid candidate for the presidential poll.

APM said this was in consideration of the time Obi defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the LP.

It further argued that the period of Obi’s defection for the purpose of contesting the presidential election was in violation of sections 77(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

According to the movement, before Obi’s defection, the LP already sent a list of its registered members to the INEC.

According to the appellant, Obi lacked the right to be recognized as the LP flagbearer because his name was not on the list of the party members that was submitted to INEC.

APM further urged the court to set aside the Federal High Court judgment which dismissed the suit it filed to challenge Obi’s candidacy.

In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, the appellate court said there was no merit in the appeal filed by APM.

The appellate court, however, held that the suit was not an abuse of the judicial process, waving aside the argument by both Obi and the LP that the suit was statute barred.

The court noted that whereas Obi resigned from the PDP on May 24, 2022, INEC published his name as a candidate for the LP on September 20, 2022.

It equally noted that the APM, being a registered party, filed its suit on September 30, 2022 after the publication of Obi’s name.

“Since the suit was filed exactly 11 days after Obi’s name was published by INEC, it was not caught by the 14 days limitation stipulated in Section 285 (9) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and therefore not statute barred,” it held.

The court held that by INEC publishing Obi’s name, “it has done no more than comply with provisions of the Electoral Act”.

Also, the appellate court held that though the APM alleged that Obi’s name was not on the register the LP submitted to INEC, it failed to present the said register in evidence.

Consequently, the appellate court struck out the suit and all the reliefs the party sought before the trial court and awarded a sum of N200,000 each, to both LP and Obi.

The panel, which was led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongbam-Mensem, also had Justices Danlami Senchi and Ugochukwu Ogakwu.